To get by as a functioning member of society, with only occasional moments of humiliation -- oh yeah, everyone remembers that time -- takes some basic skills. But who wants to settle for average when the big leagues are just 50 steps away? We’ve rounded up the things you need to master to crack this thing called adulthood, and live up to your ex-girlfriend’s lower back tattoo, “live life to the fullest.”
1. Shuck oysters like a pro
… and clams and cockles. (Game of Thrones joke, you’re welcome.)
2. Know at least one more language
Get bilingual and learn how to ask the important questions. ¿Dónde está la discoteca?
3. Throw a decent punch
Your mom didn’t want you to be the type of kid who starts fights -- but you better know how to finish them. Keep your thumb outside your fist unless you feel like texting with your index finger until it heals because yes, it will break.
4. Master shame-free public speaking
That charismatic saxophone player from Arkansas, Bill Clinton, made $104.9 million dollars between 2001 and 2013 on the public speaking circuit. So you can definitely work up to commanding attention in a meeting.
5. Make your own beef jerky
This will come in handy should an apocalyptic event render most food-preservation methods obsolete. Also beef jerky is delicious, so get your own supply. You don’t even need a dehydrator (yes, that’s a thing), you can simply use your home oven.
6. Choose a well-fitting suit or blazer
You shouldn’t be swimming in your suit like you raided your older brother’s closet, and you shouldn’t be straining in it either. Here’s a handy guide from our brothers over at JackThreads.
7. Hone dazzling interview skills
Sit up straight, don’t gesticulate too much, and don't say “um.” Ever. Also, preparation is key, but so is believing your own hype -- or no one else will.
8. Become a contributing member of society
Protip: Volunteer at an animal shelter and be paid in appreciative purrs. (By, like, cats. Don’t be weird.)
9. Build up your financial smarts
It’s not a party in your savings account if Benjamin ain’t there. Yeah, they probably should have thrown a personal finance class at us in high school -- between totally applicable lessons like how the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, and getting beaned in the face during dodge ball -- but that’s why there are free online personal finance classes.
10. Get really good at cards
It’s a valuable hanging out tool, and it could prove lucrative. Training includes perfecting that poker face.
11. Build something -- a desk, a PC, an engine
Just don’t tell anyone or you’ll unwittingly become their go-to guy.
12. Have at least one specialty recipe
La Cucina of Chef Boyardee is closed. You don’t have to make Beef Wellington, but your own ragu recipe can be pretty impressive too. Or some Cap'n Crunch chicken-fried steak.
13. Plant fruits/vegetables/herbs to elevate your cooking skills
Everyone will suspect that you are a time traveler who was personally handed a secret guacamole recipe from the Aztecs themselves -- yeah, homegrown ingredients like cilantro and tomatoes are that big a game changer in any dish.
14. Know how to make a handful of classic drinks or cocktails
Owning a small home bar is impressive; fixing your guests a martini is even more impressive.
15. Cultivate a decent knowledge of world events
This one goes out to all the high school kids today using textbooks in which Yugoslavia is still a country. Follow media outlets like CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera on Twitter, or go traditional and pick up a newspaper like The Washington Post or The New York Times.
16. Eat or drink alone in public, without hiding in a corner
There are certain ramen places like this one that MAKE you sit alone in order to properly savor your meal without distraction. If you feel self-conscious at all, just remember that your fellow diners will wish they were as confident. Or just pretend you’re French.
17. Host an amazing party
You'll know you've succeeded when people you barely know start asking you about the next party.
18. Learn how to open a bottle of wine or beer without any tools
Forget Swiss Army Knives: open a beer bottle with a piece of paper, like this guy, and convince your social circle you’re a wizard.
19. Make a toast that doesn’t clear the room
You must command attention without leaving your audience cringing like they do after most best man speeches. Remember that it’s supposed to be fun for all. Keep it short and pithy for maximum memorability.
20. Master pickling -- in all its weirdness
Make giant batches of pickled stuff and save them for the barbecue at which you blow everyone’s minds by pulling out a pickled baby eggplant for your burger. Think about all the stuff you can put in a Bloody Mary. Pickled asparagus? Yes please. Do you know who hates pickles? People who are wrong about everything.
21. Write a check
22. Break like Paul Newman
Don’t be a pool-table weenie and embarrass yourself out of the bar. Get closer to the cue and pull back farther instead of just trying to hit with more force.
23. Know what to do when you get randomly selected for airport security checks
Do what they say. You can make a viral blog post about it afterwards. (Or even live Tweet it!)
24. Perfect the art of tying a real tie
This is style basics 101 -- you need to know this. Clip-ons are for quitters.
25. Get a phone number without sounding like a scrub
Would a dumb line like “what’s cookin’ good lookin’” work on you? The main things to remember are to approach someone with confidence and not to rehearse some line -- just have a conversation. If you’re still sweating it, get your friend to wingman for you.
26. Know what to do if you lose your passport while abroad.
You’ll have to live in the terminal. (Or you could just book a ticket to a place that doesn't need your passport.)
27. Figure out your insurance situation
Because that guy’s basement is most definitely not a real clinic.
28. Slice and dice like you do it for a living
There’s more to cooking prep than making those big pieces into smaller pieces; there’s a right way to chop everything. And beyond how impressive pro chef skills look, they also reduce your digits’ chances of detachment. (Mostly.)
29. Put a fly outfit together like the clothing/colors/patterns emerged from the same apartment
You can shell out the big bucks for clothing but if your ensemble doesn’t match, or at least artfully clash, you’re still going to look like a schlub. The color wheel just wants to help you.
30. Learn how to drink something that’s been set on fire
Or walk away with a really great story about how you set yourself on fire in Berlin. (You’re supposed to use a straw and drink down the shot very quickly before your straw melts.)
31. Successfully negotiate a raise
Mo’ money mo’ problems? We’ll take that risk, thanks. The first step is to figure out what salaries the same position commands elsewhere, and then set up a pitch detailing your accomplishments and contributions, and why you in particular deserve a raise.
32. Be well-groomed and not gross all the time
To the guy who wears the same socks everyday -- we’ve all noticed buddy. And because you've gotta do it, why not make it fun?
33. Vote in elections (not just the big one), like an informed adult
It’s your civic duty to rock the vote. Also, remember that small talk stuff?
34. Make fancy, real coffee
The Cult of The Keurig is not worth your time. That perfect, golden cup awaits you.
35. Identify poisonous plants, frogs, snakes and other tricksy frickers
Keep in mind that the rules change when you visit Australia. There, there are no rules.
36. Tip properly
37. Perfect the art of making small talk about literally anything with anyone
Trapped in an elevator? Networking event? There are plenty of times you’re going to need to break out some small talk that avoids trite or boring, and luckily there’s a lot of material out there. Go ahead and own your +1-at-a-wedding status, unless everyone’s speaking Greek or something. In that case, go back to 1.
38. Administer CPR/Heimlich/Basic First Aid
Be the hero your office cafeteria/fellow man deserves. Or at least try and look like you know what you're doing until the paramedics get there.
39. Invest in the stock market
A wise man once said, “Get rich or die trying.” Make it the former. Get familiar with the basics of buying stocks before investing. You would have been so rich if you had invested in Chipotle.
40. Practice Wingmanship
Be sure to hype up your friend’s best qualities and not that hilarious story about bailing him out of jail.
41. Hail a cab in the rain
When Uber fails you, remember that much like the noble salmon, you gotta swim upstream.
42. Fend off a bear or wild animal, without ending up dead/mauled
You definitely shouldn’t play dead for everything.
43. Have a dependable hangover remedy
Feel free to chug pickle juice to get that elelctrolyte-restoring brine, but these work too.
44. Buy gifts like you thought about it
Because nobody’s going to thank you for a $5 copy of Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle -- especially not the second time.
45. Know the basics of weekly meal preparation and cooking in bulk
Not only will you have more wallet padding at the end of the month, but you’ll learn how to cook for more than special occasions -- and you’ll look super impressive at work. Invest in good Tupperware!
46. Master at least one specific dance
Know how to kill it on the dance floor at least once per evening, and you can spend the rest of it being showered with compliments. For all those people who get nervous when the “Cha Cha Slide” comes on, this one’s for you.
47. Have basic handyman skills
Because Dad’s not going to be able to come over every time something breaks, and the professionals are expensive.
48. Split a check in a big group without killing anyone
You can be the voice of reason when everyone wants to kill Shaun for not going in on the appetizer because he “only had like, one mozzarella stick.” This also prevents your waiter or waitress from wanting to do you bodily harm.
49. Stand up to your utility company
Follow these helpful steps and if that doesn’t work, threaten to file a complaint with your state’s Public Service or Public Utilities Commission.
50. Read body language correctly
Maybe wait until your boss doesn’t look like he’s about to dismember the intern to ask about that raise. Sometimes body language can be a different animal when abroad, so prepare accordingly.